A Few Thoughts About “Forgive and Forget”
Often pastors, church leaders, and many people counsel(?) the abused, molested, the hurt, etc. people to forgive and forget. The quotes are from one source, but similar can be found in many places. Consider
Girl Redeemed: Though my siblings NEVER apologize and continue the same abusive behaviors toward me, and sometimes my husband, I am expected to be a good Christian and forget about it almost immediately. (Source)
Colleen: Thank you so much for this. I have had people tell me I need to forgive my offender and no matter how much I say I have it doesn’t seem to be the answer they were looking for. Now I see that they were pushing for reconciliation of the forgive-and-forget kind. My offender told me I was playing the victim when I kindly but firmly tried to explain the hurts he had done. (Source)
Natalie: He said he was sorry, so I need to give him a fresh start.We hear this in religious circles quite often. “Forgive and forget.” “Turn the other cheek.” “Love covers up a multitude of sins.” (Source)
What does the Bible teach us?
B1 There is no such thing as forgive and forget.
B2 Sin has consequences.
C1 Adam was forgiven, yet still died.
C2 David sinned but still suffered punishment. His sin also brought about the death of his son and grief to Bathsheba. 2 Samuel 12
C3 Paul still had bad memories and sorrow for his sins. Galatians 1:13-16 NET For you have heard of my former way of life in Judaism, how I was savagely persecuting the church of God and trying to destroy it. I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries in my nation, and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my ancestors. But when the one who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I could preach him among the Gentiles, I did not go to ask advice from any human being.
Sinned greatly: 2 Chronicles 33:9 NET But Manasseh misled the people of Judah and the residents of Jerusalem so that they sinned more than the nations whom the LORD had destroyed ahead of the Israelites.
Punished: 2 Chronicles 33:10-11 NET The LORD confronted Manasseh and his people, but they paid no attention. So the LORD brought against them the commanders of the army of the king of Assyria. They seized Manasseh, put hooks in his nose, bound him with bronze chains, and carried him away to Babylon.
Repented: 2 Chronicles 33:12-13 NET In his pain Manasseh asked the LORD his God for mercy and truly humbled himself before the God of his ancestors. When he prayed to the LORD, the LORD responded to him and answered favorably his cry for mercy. The LORD brought him back to Jerusalem to his kingdom. Then Manasseh realized that the LORD is the true God.
Showed reform: 2 Chronicles 33:15-16 NET He removed the foreign gods and images from the LORD’s temple and all the altars he had built on the hill of the LORD’s temple and in Jerusalem; he threw them outside the city. He erected the altar of the LORD and offered on it peace offerings and thank offerings. He told the people of Judah to serve the LORD God of Israel.
Still Judah received punishment: 2 Kings 23:26 NET Yet the LORD’s great anger against Judah did not subside; he was still infuriated by all the things Manasseh had done. And 2 Kings 24:3 NET Just as the LORD had announced, he rejected Judah because of all the sins which Manasseh had committed.
C5 What a person sows in sin will be punished. Sin has consequences. God is not made a fool. Galatians 6:7 CSB Don’t be deceived: God is not mocked. For whatever a person sows he will also reap.
C1 Teaching: Luke 17:3-4 GNB So watch what you do! “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. 4 If he sins against you seven times in one day, and each time he comes to you saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”
C2 Some notes about forgiveness:
D1 Only God can forgive sin:
E1 The Jews understood this: Mark 2:7 NET “Why does this man speak this way? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?“
E2 Jesus paid the penalty for sin: 1 John 4:10 NLT This is real love–not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.
D2 When God forgives someone of their sins, conditions must be met.
E1 Confession, that is, admitting one’s sin. “Yes, I sinned. Yes, I did do that.” 1 John 1:9 NLT But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.
E2 Repentance, that is, turning around from the attitude of sin, the acts of sin, and the thoughts of sin. They do not do this sin anymore. It must be noticed both in public and in private. 1 Kings 8:47 NLT But in that land of exile, they might turn to you in repentance and pray, ‘We have sinned, done evil, and acted wickedly.’ Note: they agreed with God’s evaluation of their attitudes and deeds, then ask for God to forgiven.
F1 Repentance is not just saying, “I’m sorry.” There needs to be contrition and a change publicly and privately. Matthew 3:8 NLT Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God.
F2 The Greek word for repent (μετάνοια metánoia, G3341) means to turn around, a change. It would to agree with God’s opinion, rules, and decisions.
F3 Being sad, being caught, being confronted is not repentance: 2 Corinthians 7:10 NET For sadness as intended by God produces a repentance that leads to salvation, leaving no regret, but worldly sadness brings about death.
E3 Asking. Luke 18:13 NLT “But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’
E4 Forsaking them. This includes thoughts, desires, words, and deeds both in public and in private.
F1 2 Timothy 2:19 NLT But God’s truth stands firm like a foundation stone with this inscription: “The LORD knows those who are his,” and “All who belong to the LORD must turn away from evil.”
F2 1 Peter 3:11 NLT Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it.
D3 Forgiveness is not seeking revenge. Turning the abuser over to God, to law enforcement, to the public’s knowledge, is not revenge. When a crime is committed, it must be reported.
B4 Scars remain after abuse:
C1 Recognition: After leaving, there has to be recognition that there was abuse.
C7 It takes time. Everyone is different. You probably should seek counseling.
B2 Cry for Justice (Barbara Roberts)
B3 Unholy Charade (Jeff Crippen)
Sexual Molestation: Jimmy Hinton
Child Abuse: National Children’s Advocacy Center
B2 Julie Roys
Emergencies. Do not hesitate if you need immediate help. If you are in danger, call.
B1 National Child Abuse Hotline (USA):
C2 Same number 1-800-422-4453
B2 National Domestic Abuse (USA): 1-800-799-7233 or (TTY) 1-800-787-3224
B3 Or (USA) 911
Survivor’s Handbook (UK)
The Exhausted Woman (Christine Hammond, MS, LMHC
A Few Thoughts About Forgive and Forget